vintage furniture store sign

It isn’t often that you see well-preserved, handmade cardboard advertising signs from the 1940s for sale — so when we spotted nine fantastic vintage furniture store signs from ebay seller wafa510, we just had to feature them. The best thing about these signs is that they were all hand lettered — a real art form that is dying out in this age of computers, fonts and fast, easy printing. Let’s take a look. 

vintage furniture store sign vintage furniture store sign vintage furniture store signJust think about how steady-handed the person who painted these signs had to be — especially to make perfectly straight rules under the words. All of the signs are impeccably lettered and centered within each cardboard panel. That takes some serious skill, folks!

vintage furniture store sign vintage furniture store sign vintage furniture store sign vintage furniture store signThere are very few people left today who still practice the art of sign painting. About two years ago, Faythe Levine & Sam Macon produced a documentary about sign painting — called Sign Painters. 

I haven’t seen the documentary yet — but I did read the book, Sign Painters also by Faythe Levine & Sam Macon, which is fabulous.

Above: Per reader Anna, a video about the sign painters at the recently closed Honest Ed’s in Toronto. <3

vintage furniture store sign vintage furniture store sign

This one even has 3D lettering!

When it comes to artwork for our walls, we like to mix up our media — paintings [oil, watercolor, acrylic], drawings, lino prints, posters, collages, assemblages, fiber arts, needle arts, chalkware, a ceramic wall pocket, a shadow box, a vintage clock. Hey: The perfect spot for a hand-lettered advertising sign somewhere, too???

Mega thanks to ebay seller wafa510 for allowing us to feature photos of these fantastic vintage furniture store signs.

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  1. Marsha says:

    I took a couple of drafting classes in high school and college. I remember how VERY particular the instructors were when it came to lettering. There was no A for effort.

  2. Jay says:

    Very interesting! I can just imagine what those living room suites looked like: I sat on quite a few mohair and velour furniture as a kid when taken on visits to relatives’ homes.

  3. Mary says:

    Looks like both painters in the Honest Ed’s video are left-handed too. Ha, lefties represent!

    I think Ollie’s Outlet here in the States must have borrowed a lot of their schtick from Honest Ed’s.

  4. Ruth Ann Kuntz says:

    Feeling nostalgic of my training in art school. We learned hand lettering, which was so stressful. We had to illustrate lamps and furniture for advertising. Now you see a photo in ads. My profession is has changed beyond belief with the computer age.

  5. Lori says:

    Thanks for this story! My grandfather owned a sign shop. My mother remembers hanging out in the shop watching them blow neon, and collecting the lunch doodles. After our kitchen renovation is done, my retro kitchen will feature their art again!

  6. Pat in PA says:

    Great post! My wonderful step-dad was a sign painter by trade–he used to do signs for grocery stores (he called them “junk signs” because they were throwaways after the week of specials-similar to the blue and red ones in the video). He also lettered many firetrucks and all of the trucks and equipment for a local excavating company with Gold Leaf lettering. He was hired to letter people’s names on office doors and pinstriped people’s cars–quite an art! He learned his trade in the 40’s when he was overseas in the Army–he lettered equipment lockers and radio equipment.
    His sign shop was his domain…I loved to go in there through all the years–he was a jazz fanatic and we’d talk and listen to music while he painted.
    Thanks for the post–it has brought back many good memories!

  7. Adam Richards says:

    As someone who has painted signs, let me tell you, vinyl and digital printouts are way easier and efficient… but, nothing beats a hand painted sign. There is a satisfaction from working with your hands that a computer printout simply cannot replicate.

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